Dont Get Scammed: NICB Insights on How to Avoid Fraud After a Natural Disaster

–News Direct–

A video accompanying this announcement is available at: https://youtu.be/dJPZJMemFCA

David J. Glawe, CEO of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, discusses how fraudulent contractors scam homeowners and insurers after disasters, leading to higher premiums.

With hurricane, tornado, and wildfire seasons in full swing in many parts of the country, property damage and loss will be unavoidable in affected areas.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau is warning those living in areas that could suffer from a natural disaster to not only be prepared for the disaster but to be aware of the potential for fraudulent contractors and vendors taking advantage of victims in its aftermath.

Last year was a historic year for billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the U.S., with 28 separate events costing at least $1 billion. In the 1980s, the average time between billion-dollar disasters was 82 days. In 2023, it was just 12 days, with these disasters totaling more than $93 billion in catastrophe losses. Upwards of 10 percent or $9.3 billion is lost to post-disaster fraud, which not only impacts individuals, but also impacts insurance premiums throughout the industry.

Oftentimes, these deceitful actors target neighborhoods affected by disasters and make an unsolicited stop at your home. They will take your money – often overcharging – and do shoddy or no work at all, promising that your insurance company will pay for it all.

On Tuesday, May 21, a nationwide media tour was conducted featuring NICB President & CEO David J. Glawe discussing how to avoid home repair fraud after a natural disaster and many other consumer friendly topics.

Questions and Topics Mr. Glawe discussed Included:

Why is contractor fraud becoming more prevalent, and who is committing these acts?

What is NICB doing to help stop contractor fraud from occurring?

What steps can and should homeowners take prior to a natural disaster and how can preparation help reduce chances of becoming a victim of fraud?

What signs should disaster victims be on the lookout for that may indicate a dishonest contractor and what steps can people take to avoid being scammed?

What resources are available to help homeowners and other disaster victims avoid potential fraudulent actors or report fraud when they encounter it?

NICB recommends following these tips before hiring a contractor:

Be Proactive

Assess Damages: If you think you have catastrophe-related damage, reach out to your insurance company, and ask for clarification on your coverage.

Recruit a Professional: Seek out a licensed, insured, and well-reviewed contractor before any potential fraudulent contractors come knocking on your door.

Research and Verify Before Signing Anything

Research and Verify: Before hiring a contractor, research their credentials, reputation, and track record. Check for licenses, certifications, and reviews from previous clients. Verify their insurance coverage and inquire about any past complaints or legal issues.

Get Multiple Quotes: Obtain bids from multiple contractors for comparison. Be wary of significantly low bids, as they may indicate substandard work or hidden costs. Aim for a balance between affordability and quality.

Beware of Red Flags: Be alert to red flags such as high-pressure sales tactics, vague or evasive answers, or reluctance to provide written estimates or contracts. Trust your instincts and proceed with caution if something seems off.

Stay Involved and Take Account

Written Contracts: Always insist on a written contract detailing the scope of work, materials, timeline, and a payment schedule that does not include large upfront payments. Review the contract carefully, ensuring that all terms and conditions are clearly outlined and agreed upon by both parties.

Stay Involved: Stay actively involved in the project by regularly communicating with the contractor and monitoring progress, while keeping records of all work communications.

Seek Legal Advice if Necessary: If you suspect contractor fraud or encounter significant problems during the project, seek legal advice promptly. A legal professional can help you understand your rights, explore options for resolution, and take appropriate action to protect your interests.

Report Fraud

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422).

To learn more, visit NICB.org

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to combatting and preventing insurance crime through Intelligence, Analytics, and Operations; Education and Crime Prevention; and Strategy, Policy, and Advocacy. NICB is supported by more than 1,200 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations.

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